Re-visioning Stuckness in Psychotherapy

Perla, Israel (Rulik) (2020) Re-visioning Stuckness in Psychotherapy. Doctoral thesis, Meridian University.

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Abstract

This research explored the meaning therapists ascribe to stuckness and the internal and external responses they have when encountering it. The Research Problem asked: “When in the face of stuckness, what tendencies can be seen in therapists’ thought process in their choice making between active, change-seeking interventions and passive,encouraging and accepting interventions?” The hypothesis stated: “When faced with stuckness, some therapists tend to want to do ‘something’ even when they do not know what to do. Their discomfort prompts them to choose active, change-seeking interventions against their intuition or deeper knowing.” Taoist theory was used as thetheory in practice when examining the research findings. The literature review explores the roots of change theory in western psychology and philosophy, and the dichotomy between process and substance metaphysics. It looks at the role of the therapist in the change process and at cultural biases towards active interventions. It covers other terms used to describe the lack of change, such as resistance and impasse. Finally, it explores modalities that accept stuckness in the therapy process.Although stuckness was identified since the early days of modern psychology, and thereare sources suggesting how to fix it, there are limited sources that look at therapists’ reaction to stuckness. There is a shortage of literature that recognizes the healing and iv developmental role of stuckness. Some exceptions can be found in Buddhist psychology and in Gestalt.The research data was collected using Imaginal Inquiry and Phenomenologicalinterviewing. The data analysis used Thematic Content Analysis.10 professional therapists were interviewed after a short therapy session where the researcher role-played a stuck client. Additionally, 84 professional therapists responded to a request to define stuckness in psychotherapy. Thematic analysis was used to glean common themes from these responses in preparation for data collection and to substantiate the Research Problem focus. The Cumulative Learning suggests that therapists might respond to stuckness by disconnecting from their intuition. The first learning suggests that therapists’ desire to help leads them to respond to stuckness with dread and shame. The second learning suggests that responses to stuckness lead to disconnection from the client. The third learning suggests that therapists frequently expect the client to know and name their therapy goals. The fourth learning suggests that therapists are often ambivalent about their wishes to slow the therapy process. The fifth learning suggests that therapists often treat the therapy as a riddle and tend to offer shortcut solutions. Deepening therapists’ awareness of stuckness and considering its place in the process of therapy can reduce their dread and shame and the pressure on the client to change. As a result, Stuckness might be loosened and new paths to internal and external change can be revealed. The story of Odysseus in Ogygia illustrates stuckness as part of the therapeutic process.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Psychology > Imaginal Psychology
Psychology > Transpersonal Psychology
Depositing User: Meridian Admin
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2020 17:29
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2020 22:57
URI: http://scholarship.meridianuniversity.edu/id/eprint/182

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